Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Ignorance: Alive & Well
My kids are bi-racial. They are half Korean, and half... well... mutt. White. Whatever. Caucasian to be exact. Sometimes, when I have them out with me, and my husband isn't with me, people will ask questions. I don't mind at all! I love my kids. I think they are fabulous... please, ask about them! Once, at a consignment sale, a lady said, "Where did you get your babies?" To which I replied, without thinking, "Korea!" She said, "really?" I responded, "Well, yeah, Korea and my uterus. They are bi-racial. My husband is from Korea" She promptly apologized, telling me that her babies were from South America, and mine looked similar to hers. I just laughed, and told her not to worry. I was happy to have someone notice their beautiful skin tones. Questions like that, I don't mind. It is understandable that people might think my children are adopted. And I would be proud if they were, of course, as adoption is the best gift you can give to a child. I like that people notice differences. After all, both my husband and I have adoption in our families (that's how he got here!), and we celebrate all sorts of different family make-ups. And let's be honest... my kids are cute (in my own, extremely biased opinion)!
However, some people have less than celebratory things to say about my kids. And I don't think they mean it at all. But on two occasions, I have been extremely shocked (and somewhat appalled)...
Once, when the boy was about 5 months old, I was at the lab getting a blood draw. My friend (his God Mother) was holding him in the lobby so I could go get stuck. When I came out, the receptionist said, "Awww, your baby is so cute!" To which I replied, "Thanks!" But could she leave it at that? Nooooooo... she continued, "He's so cute! He has chinky eyes." I don't even know how to spell that word, but the point is REALLY?!?!?!?!?!? YOU JUST SAID MY BABY HAS CHINKY EYES????????? Seriously. I looked at her, and smiled, and said, "Well, that's because his father is Korean..." She was mortified. Apologizing all over herself... Good. Her embarrassment was a necessary side effect of her ignorance.
Fast forward a few years to when I am daycare shopping. I show up with the girl this time, and begin the tour of the daycare. In conversation, I mention that the girl is half Korean, which is why she doesn't look like me. To this, the daycare provider replies, "Well, that's okay!" Really? Okay? Because I definitely was not just APOLOGIZING for the race of my own child. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Before we speak, maybe we ought to think. Agreed?